Although Uncanny X-Men 2 feels more focused than the first issue, it didn’t give us any answers or any kind of clear direction for the general story. Both issues were filled with strange events, including things appearing where they shouldn’t, people vanishing without a trace, and several characters not being able to use their powers properly in certain circumstances.
This issue begins to explain what’s going on. Co-written by Matthew Rosenberg, Kelly Thompson and Ed Brisson, Uncanny X-Men 3 picks up exactly where the last issue left off. One half of the team is fighting dinosaurs that are charging towards a small town, while the others are dealing with a massive army of Multiple Man’s insane dupes. By the end of this issue, we learn why Multiple Man’s dupes are causing all sorts of chaos, as well as their sudden variety of powers. And frankly, it’s an explanation that’s a lot simpler than I expected, and it’s one that fits well in multiple ways. I won’t say what it is, but it was teased at the end of Uncanny X-Men 2. There’s still a lot of vague story beats, but it’s nice that we’re starting to get some big answers.
But answers and mysteries alone don’t make a good X-Men comic. Thankfully, this comic is mostly pretty good. Despite the large cast of mutants, most characters are getting a decent amount of focus. There’s a particularly brilliant moment where Bishop saves the life of an anti-mutant protester from a T-Rex, and even hands him the sign back, while giving him a stern look. It’s a powerful scene shown with minimal dialogue, and it’s such a Bishop moment. And even if X-23 sound a bit too much like a typical teenage girl with some of her dialogue in this issue, she shows hints of her leadership potential as well as her immense skill in both of the big action scenes.
As much as I’m enjoying this series, and I do think this is the best issue yet, I do have some building concerns. It’s nice that some of the X-kids are getting focus in the main series again, and it feels like they’re trying to build towards giving this particular group a larger role in the franchise. If something actually happens this time, then that’s great. But I’m kind of worried that they’ll be thrown under the bus again when this story is over. It’s been done before and I can’t help but be paranoid, but that’s not a point against this comic yet. What could quickly become a point against this comic is that we’ve seen a lot of anti-mutant protests already. I get that racism has always been a theme in the X-Men franchise, and it did lead to that powerful Bishop moment, but it’s already feeling a little excessive. It’s times like this when I miss moments like in Bendis’s run, when a bunch of mutant supporters in large gatherings. All I’m asking for is a bit more balance. I’m not alone on this.
The art by Yildiray Cinar is good. It’s a mostly simple look, but one that fully embraces the chaotic nature of its fight scenes. Both battles are introduced with a splash page that shows every team member in action, whether it’s Iceman and Northstar double-teaming a large dinosaur, or Cannonball blazing through multiple man dupes in the foreground while Storm is charging up for some sort of electrical attack in the foreground. This is consistent throughout every panel with these action scenes, making the fights feel big. There are some nice touches, like Laura constantly being covered in other people’s blood while she’s slashing dinosaurs and dupes, and Iceman’s animated body language to mirror his jokester personality.
Facial expressions do a fantastic job at conveying emotions, like Bishop’s cold stare when he hands the man he just rescued his “God hates mutants” sign, the panicked look in Jean’s face when she sees thousands of dupes on the ground, and the crazed look when a certain character returns to their old self. There is one criticism to offer though – pretty much every character features the same kind of eyebrows. It’s not a major problem, but once you notice it, you can’t unsee it. Rachelle Rosenberg’s colouring is brilliant as always. This is an overall bright and colourful comic, with great shadow work throughout. There’s great use of lighting with character’s powers, my personal favourite being Storm mostly covered in shadows when she’s using her electricity, making her look quite intimidating.
Although I hesitate to call this comic great, it is the best in the series so far. That is thanks to a couple brilliant moments and the fact that it’s starting to answer some questions. The art, while not as detailed as in previous issues, fully embraces the chaotic nature of the action scenes. It also sells several great moments just through its facial expressions. A couple lines of dialogue feel a bit off, but overall everyone feels like they’re in character, and pretty much everyone gets a moment to shine. This series knows how to balance its large cast much better than X-Men Red is doing. If you’re a fan of the X-Men franchise, this series is definitely worth paying attention to.